This unusual and interesting name is English but arguably of Italian and Latin origins. It derives from one of the earliest Roman names, "Horatius". The name is thought to mean something connected with "hora", the Latin for "hour", but the original meaning has been lost. The personal name is best known from Horatius Cocles, who held the bridge over the Tiber against the Etruscan army, as told by Macaulay in "The plays of Ancient Rome", and from the great Latin poet Horace, whose true name was Quintus Horatius Flaccus. The first use of the personal name in England was confined to the learned section of society, as in "Oratius Presbiter", recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Essex in 1193, and the surname is rarely found until the 17th century, when it was re-introduced from Italy as Orazio and Horatio. The modern surname from this source can be found as Orriss, Oris, Orvis, Orviss, Orrice and no doubt others. Recordings include William Orriss who married Ann Warwick at St. Leonard's Shoreditch, on the February 18th 1777, whilst Orel Dighton Orvis married Caroline Fulker at St James Clerkenwell on March 28th 1887. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Oras. This was dated 1312, in the tax rolls known as the Feet of Fines for Essex, during the reign of King Edward 11nd of England, 1307 - 1327. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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